Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Today it is a very warm 26C and probably going to go a little higher before the day is out. Which makes a pleasant change from the showery weekend just gone.

Last night The Twilights performed their last "gig" at Ana's; not by choice but because, again, the Police were summoned by a disgruntled neighbour who told Favio that "once more and you will be closed." While I was at the bar earlier today, bottling-up, Ana-Marie came in with some trailing houseplants that have gone up on the picture rail and I took the opportunity to ask about a music licence. Apparantly they have tried to get one but, she told me, the town is "zoned" for the purpose and in the zone that the bar is part of the authorities do not intend to issue anymore licences for music. So that's that. No more Twilights. Not that it will hurt David & Christys' new-found career, they are well sought after elsewhere in town but it is a shame that, having given them their "break", Ana's is now to lose out.

I had a long chat with Katrina yesterday afternoon via Skype, she called me to ask how I was etc. Life in Omsk is no better than anywhere else at the moment it would seem, the crunch is biting hard in Russia as well. No news of Larisa. But then I didn't ask, just letting Katy get her moans and groans off her chest.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

What's Cooking?

The other week you mentioned that you were experimenting with Lentils. I never stop doing so, having to find different ways to use my homemade Chicken Stock to best advantage. I've got half-a-gallon waiting for my attention right now so, I've just been shopping and, making no excuses, here's a soupy, nay, stewy, idea for you:

Lentejas con Verduras y Chorizo

1+1/2 cups brown/green Lentils (The American cup measure I use)
900g frozen, diced mixed veg. (my 2x450g bags include Brussels!)
2 Chorizo sausage links (or any spicy/herby sausage)
2 BIG Garlic cloves.
1 tspn Cumin powder
1/2 tspn pepper
1 tspn Paprika (hot n' smoked of course!)
Chicken Stock

Slice the sausage into bitesize.
Chop the garlic.

Easy! Chuck all the dry ingredients into a big pot, cover with Stock (I got 2+1/2 pints into almost the brim of mine), bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat and simmer until Lentils are done. Season to taste. They say that salt added to Lentils whilst they are being cooked toughens them. I'll take their word on that!

It will keep in the fridge while you use it up over the next 4 or 5 days. And its flavour improves!!

Part of the reason why I went shopping earlier was to get some white wine for tomorrows Sunday Dinner. I intend to braise another piece of Pork Loin, this time with pears, but the wine is, already, nearly all gone (hic). Plan B? Buy another. Mercadona sell a Cooking Wine for about 1.80 but I found something cheaper at 90 cents that is actually very drinkable and, hopefully, will help me to forget to take the meat out of the freezer later so that I have no excuse not to go for my Sunday Snifter in The Ship tomorrow afternoon while waiting for it to defrost having taken it out in the morning. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! 2 weeks ago I stayed in and last week got told off by Lisa for being "conspicious by my absence," or something similar. I won't be doing that again! The force is with her and never, EVER, to be reckoned with! Life en El Bajondillo? Who would want to be anywhere else? Not me!!

It is 4pm and I've got 2 pints (more-or-less) of Stock left. What to do? A paella of course! So, put your pinny on and follow me....

I've been playing around with a one-man recipe for paella for some little while now (because I hate reheated leftovers of this particular dish) and I think that this attempt at perfection will be just that....perfick. My "paellera" for this is a deepish 18cm frying (omelette) pan, and based upon my always available roasted chicken, here goes:

1 Chorizo sausage
1/2 a smallish onion
1 clove of Garlic (choose a big'un)
1 tspn Tumeric
1 tspn Paprika
1 tomato
Cooked Chicken Meat (brown, white, whatever)
Frozen, cooked, prawns
Fresh Bell Pepper (Green or Red or both)
Frozen Peas
Short grained rice
Chicken Stock
(Quantities are more to do with not overfilling your pan)

Slice the onion.
Slice the Chorizo (de-skin it if you prefer.)
Dice a tomato.
Dice a little fresh pepper.
Coarsely chop the Garlic.
Slice the crabsticks.

Begin by browning the chorizo for a minute or so then add the onion, pepper(s) and garlic and continue sauteing until they are softening, then add the spices, fry for a minute or so more then cover all with a layer of rice (2 grains deep will be about right) and contnue frying with a constant stir until the rice is becoming translucent. Add some Stock and the tomato and cook until the rice is more-or-less tender (adding more stock as is necessary), then in the final moments, add the prawns, peas, crabsticks and chicken to heat through. Don't be frightened to allow the paella to "stick" to the pan in the final few minutes of cooking. The resultant caramelization is known as "Socorat" and is what makes a paella a paella, so, scrape it off and serve it up! You'll love it!!

Early days

It may only be coincidence compounded by a very wet evening but last night's session in the bar with the revised price list in full effect was very busy right through from the moment I opened until I closed. The Happy Hour is having a marked effect on the first hour of opening, maybe not in the till but certainly in terms of the number of customers coming in and I noted that a few did not choose to leave at the end of it but stayed on, paying the full price for a round or two more. Which is exactly what it is all about of course.

About 3 years ago one of the best loved characters here in El Bajondillo, Colin, died at the age of 66. Last night his daughter arrived and spent the evening reminiscing with us all. And while sitting in quiet conversation with David (who had returned to Ana's after the regular Friday performance in The Irish Affair pub with his partner in crime, Christy, as The Twilights) I'm sure that many of the questions she still has about her Dad were answered because he and Colin were "best mates." One question that I couldn't answer for her, though, was why she hasn't been able to access this blog since my problems with connectivity a couple of months ago. It is hosted by Google and I, unfortunately, have no control over anybody else's ability to log into it but I gave her the address and here's hoping that upon her return to the UK it'll work for her again.

Bill wants to do another Tapa run this coming Thursday. I have always thought that these things were traditionally "for the boys" but I am wrong. Andrea has been on many in years gone by and will be very much a part of the group out-and-about the town from 1pm onwards. I believe that 8 of us will be flopping down on the nearest sofa or something come 5 o'clock or so but I'm, probably, the only one who has to remember to put an alarm on for a couple of hours later. Woe is me!! Maybe I should leave the Champagne Cocktails alone? Then again, maybe not. Daft idea.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Needs must

Recent, numerous, discussions with Favio and Ana-Mari have finally paid off...he has been persuaded to lower his prices, and has done so across the board, to bring the bar more in line with others around about. Additionally, some other problems with his pricing policy have also been removed at the same time so I now feel that the bar is, at last, far better placed to ride out the economic crunch. On Tuesday he introduced a daily "Happy Hour" between 8pm and 9pm and that has been quite successful so far as well, word is spreading fast it seems. And to top it all "The Twilights" drew a full-capacity crowd again on Tuesday evening who enjoyed the performance to such an extent that one lady even removed her knickers and tossed them at David!!

Beryl has allowed me to give a new home to a houseplant that would have otherwise found itself in the bin. I don't what it is; all I can tell you is that it is green and carries a single, oval-shaped leaf at the end of each stem. I believe that it has lead a sheltered life indoors but it is now enjoying a breath of fresh air, and a good wash (in the rain) behind the ears, on one of my balconies and tomorrow will be given a feast of fertilizer to help it settle in. I've also got an African Violet (I think) that Helen passed on to me when she went back to the States a few weeks ago. I've done some reading about how to care for the critter and it is now de-bloomed and responding well with new growth in its prime position as centrepiece on my dining-table.

The showery weather of late is expected to continue into Saturday, after which things should clear up, brighten up and warm up which is no bad thing because on Monday I am invited to Dinner with Ann and Bill, for which Ann is doing one of her famous curry banquets, then, after that I've a date to go dancing with Bill's daughter Andrea who is here visiting her father.

The photos of Ana-Mari on-stage at El Bajondillo have now all been removed, as have all other trinkets and decorations around the bar and above the picture rail. In their place are big (3ftx2ft) framed pictures of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. I'm not sure that these new pictures will draw people in in quite the same way that the photos did (not that those people ever drank, they just stepped in the doorway and gawped at "the lady from the hotel") but Ana has been determined to get rid of those photos for a long time and has now done so.

Competition is stiff, times are tough and things have to change.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A Lovely Habit

My opening gambit is, as more-or-less always, the weather! Some rain and showers have been forecast for the next couple of days and, judging by the sky that I made a point of observing while shopping for some Oxo cubes earlier, that is exactly what may be about to happen. Grey skies are coming in from the West and heavy Cumulonimbus clouds are being pushed high over the Sierra Nevada on their way East. I'll be taking my umbrella into work this evening just in case.

Cristina arrived early this morning. I didn't hear her because I was still sound asleep after a few vodkas last night on my "day" off but at 1145 the door downstairs into the street was rapped upon and, not knowing that she was here, I went down to answer it. The workmen waiting didn't look like painters to me but I let them in anyway and as they began to lug some heavy gear up the staircase Cristina's voice came from above "Derek! No tuyos, solamente para mi." So, as I retired back through my own front-door I waved them on up to the second floor. A little while later a quiet rap on my door brought me face-to-face with a really rather very attractive Nun. Ignoring the presence of another workman splattered in paint I found myself involuntarily exclaiming "Cristina! Muy diferente!" " Si" she replied, "Un experiencia religioso para mi." I'm going to have to ask permission for a photo. I just have to!

My kitchen walls are now repainted, as is the bathroom after a disastrous visit by an electrician last Saturday to sort out the problem with the water heater. Guess who drilled through a water pipe in his efforts to move an electrical socket that didn't need moving, just replacing. The painter was (is) Moroccan and, upon noticing my Tagine, he started talking about cooking, Morocco and other such stuff in Spanish, French and English! We had a great time together for an hour or so.

I've currently got mince, mash and cabbage on the go for my dinner later, inspired by a man-sized portion of mince and rice that Margaret sent into the bar especially for me a night or three ago. Yesterday, though, I braised some pork loin with apple and white wine. Absolutely delicious it was so, when I have the time I'll tell you more about it. Now, where's my camera?

PS On my shopping trip today I noticed Yorkshire Tea on the shelf in the local "corner shop" that I use. I doubt that it is a permanent addition to their range. Vamos a ver(We'll see.)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Twinkle, twinkle, little Stars

Last night "The Twilights" performed their usual Tuesday evening spot in Ana's Bar. Not long after they started a group of three girls came in and began to busy me with the making of Mojitos two at a time. Now, Mojitos are not my favourite cocktail to make, especially when the bar has other customers coming up for service but these girls kept me at it while, apparantly, paying no attention to David & Christy as they continued with their repertoire. In fact the girls conversation was loud and distracting for those nearby trying to listen to the boys. Towards the end of the show though the girls started to do a little dancing and take more interest in what was going on around them and then, when "The Twilights" had finished came a big surprise; the offer of an all-expenses-paid trip to Copenhagen to perform in a Hotel on the outskirts of that city. The three noisy ladies turned out to be Danish, working for a big Danish hotel chain and empowered to do what they did....offer "The Twilights" a gig at one of their hotels. Nice one.

Cristina called me today, catching me in the middle of shopping for the Easter weekend, to tell me that she is coming to Torremolinos next Tuesday and, at my convenience on that day, will get someone to come and paint the kitchen for me. Whilst she was on the phone I told her that I had a problem with the hot water tank now, as well, and needed an electrician. She rang back later to ask if I could accept a visit from one on Saturday, pay him and dock her rent by the amount and that's all organised.

I now have a presence on Facebook complete with a photo, now on my profile and taken by Lisa a few months ago, of me behind the bar. I'm slowly building a list of friends on said system and have been a given at least one surprise in the system's offer of people that I might know and might like to contact.

Semana Santa (Easter) is upon us. The towns around will be hosting Religious processions through the coming weekend and I've noticed barriers around Torremolinos prepared for road closing from Friday onwards. Unfortunately for me most of what goes on is during the evening so I won't be able to see it but two years ago Larisa and I went to Malaga and watched proceedings there (everything was rained off by half -past 10 I remember) so I know what happens and have a few photos. Of more importance to me is the fact that banks and shops close tomorrow and Friday leaving me with having to worry about such things as having enough change for the bar until Moday etc. etc., hence the trip into town earlier. There is not an Easter Egg in sight though; Easter is very much a religious celebration here with, according to Ana-Mari, some special dishes prepared, one of which she has given me the recipe for and which I'm going to try.